Children’s foot care helps set the course for their overall foot health and comfort as they get older. Take care of their feet as babies and they are far more likely to have healthy, strong lower limbs as they grow. That’s why treating a condition like clubfoot is so important.
Babies with Twisted Feet
Clubfoot is a common foot deformity that is present at birth. No one knows exactly what causes it, though occasionally it is related to neuromuscular disorders. It may affect one or both feet and does not improve on its own. Because of how the condition changes children’s feet, the problem is obvious at birth. The affected foot is twisted down and inward. The toes will point toward the other leg instead of straight forward. The top of the foot may even appear to be flipped and pointing down, so the foot seems to be upside down. The tendons on the inside of the leg connected to the feet are shorter than normal, pulling the foot inward. The limb may be smaller than the unaffected foot as well.
Fortunately, this condition does not cause your child pain. Babies are born with flexible, soft feet. As your child grows, the lower limbs strengthen and the bones become more solid to prepare for your child to start walking. Feet that are still twisted will grow in that position, creating a more permanent deformity that can painfully limit his or her mobility. Your children’s feet need to be treated early while they are flexible and receptive to conservative therapies so they can walk normally later.
Risks for the Deformity
Although the cause of clubfoot is unknown, certain factors do influence the condition. The problem runs in families—the foot deformity is more common in children with relatives who also had the issue—but your baby is not guaranteed to develop it, even if you had it yourself. Smoking, illegal drug usage, and chronic dehydration while pregnant sharply increase the risk for the condition. The problem is also more common in baby boys than in baby girls.
Receiving Prompt Treatment
Investigating your treatment options and investing in therapy soon after birth is the best way to restore the feet to normal so your child can walk later. Mark Gasparini, D.P.M., and our expert staff will carefully examine the foot deformity to determine its severity. We may use X-rays or other diagnostic images to get a clearer picture of the foot structures. Then we can choose a plan to manage the condition and eliminate the deformity.
Following a basic manipulation and casting method is the most common treatment for clubbed feet. Your infant’s foot is gently stretched and manipulated towards the correct position, where it is casted in place. After a few days, the cast is removed and the process is repeated. This continues until the feet are in the proper position. After this, a minor procedure lengthens your child’s Achilles tendon. Once his or her foot has healed, your child will begin wearing special shoes and braces constantly for three months. After these first months, the time in the brace will decrease until he or she only wears it while sleeping. You child will continue to wear the braces while sleeping for a few years to ensure the feet don’t return to a clubbed position.
Pursuing Further Options
Severe clubfoot, or a limb that isn’t responding to conservative therapy, may need surgery to correct the deformity. This involves lengthening the short tendons and repositioning the foot. Your baby’s foot will be in a cast for several weeks to recover. Once the affected foot has healed, the cast will be removed. Then your child will spend roughly a year wearing a brace or special shoe to keep the feet from regressing.
Clubfoot is a common, treatable problem that can affect your child. As long as you have the condition managed early on, your child should be able to play and walk normally. Failing to take care of the deformity can lead to permanent problems later. Let Mark Gasparini, D.P.M., help you. Contact our Massapequa office by calling (516) 804-9038, or by using the website. Don’t wait—make an appointment with us to manage your family’s foot health now.